Ronel Blanco's no-hitter shouldn't distract Astros fans from great Justin Verlander news

Ronel Blanco's no-hitter should not distract Astros fans from what was an extremely encouraging Justin Verlander update.

Mar 28, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) waves
Mar 28, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) waves / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Astros are usually a team built with tons of starting pitching depth, but this season presented challenges on that front.

Injuries to Justin Verlander, Lance McCullers Jr., Luis Garcia, and Jose Urquidy caused Houston to open the season with practically a full rotation on the IL. All of those injuries meant Houston would have a lackluster rotation, at least to start the season.

Ronel Blanco, a pitcher with just seven MLB starts under his belt, won the fifth starter job. His first start of the season was an extremely important one as Houston had lost each of the first four games of their season. Not only did Blanco pitch well, but he wound up throwing a no-hitter, leading the Astros to their first win of the season. As promising as that was, it still wasn't the only good news that came from Monday.

Ahead of Monday's game, manager Joe Espada gave an extremely encouraging update on ace Justin Verlander. The Blanco no-hitter should be celebrated, but it shouldn't completely overshadow that positive update.

Astros got positive Justin Verlander news before Ronel Blanco threw a no-hitter

Verlander threw a simulated game at Minute Maid Park ahead of Monday's game, and only good things were said after it.

“He looked good,” manager Joe Espada said. “He threw around 50-something pitches and I think if he comes back tomorrow feeling well, he should be ready to go out on a rehab assignment. I think he will need more than one [rehab game].”

Assuming Verlander feels good on Tuesday, he'll prepare to go out on a rehab assignment. Where Verlander will pitch is unknown, but he is set to pitch in a minor league game sometime within the next week. Espada believes Verlander will need more than one rehab start, but an April return should not be ruled out.

If everything goes well in Verlander's rehab starts, he should be back very soon. That's an extremely positive update for a team that even with Blanco doing what he did, needs starting pitching.

Blanco's start was fun, but for this Astros team to go where they want to, Verlander is going to have to play a major role. Finding out that he's continuing to progress is great news that should not be overshadowed.